Innovation and Technology
65. Innovation and technology (I&T) is an important growth engine for future economic development. In the past three years, the Government introduced a number of policies and allocated over a hundred billion dollars to support a series of measures for the development of I&T. The local I&T ecosystem has become more vibrant. Schools and parents are attaching greater importance to STEM education. Local I&T companies have won awards time and again in international competitions, whereas a number of "unicorns" have emerged. While there is still some way to go to develop I&T into mature industries, I am convinced that our current investments will bear fruits in future.
Promoting Research and Development
66. Promoting research and development (R&D) is a crucial part of I&T development. The Government is developing two InnoHK research clusters at the Hong Kong Science Park (Science Park), one focusing on healthcare technologies and the other on artificial intelligence and robotics technologies. They have received overwhelming response from many world renowned universities and research institutes. With the first batch of R&D centres expected to be set up progressively this year, we are actively exploring the establishment of a third InnoHK research cluster.
67. The Government will continue to provide enhanced tax deduction for qualifying R&D expenditure incurred by enterprises and subsidise local R&D work through the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF), with a view to fostering technology transfer as well as application and commercialisation of R&D results. The Government will extend next month the coverage of the Public Sector Trial Scheme to all technology companies conducting R&D activities in Hong Kong.
68. On R&D and application, with the recent anti-epidemic work as an example, the Government has used the electronic wristbands developed by the Logistics and Supply Chain Multi-tech R&D Centre to facilitate home quarantine. The Nano and Advanced Materials Institute has also authorised a mask manufacturer to use its patented nanofibre technology to produce a highly breathable mask that is capable of killing bacteria. The government is also exploring the technology solutions related to reusable masks.
Re-industrialisation and Industry Development
69. The Government has been promoting re-industrialisation in Hong Kong through the provision of infrastructural, financial, technological and talent support. We will inject $2 billion into the ITF for launching the Re-industrialisation Funding Scheme to provide financial support for manufacturers on a matching basis for setting up new smart production lines in Hong Kong. We will also provide the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) with an additional funding of $2 billion for converting an old factory in the Yuen Long Industrial Estate into a Microelectronics Centre to provide modern manufacturing facilities.
70. From April 2020 onwards, the Government will enhance the Technology Voucher Programme to promote the wider use of technological services and solutions among local enterprises for increasing their productivity or upgrading and transforming business processes. The Government's funding ratio will increase from the current level of two-thirds to three-fourths, and the funding ceiling from $400,000 to $600,000. The ceiling on the number of approved projects will also rise from four to six.
Developing I&T Infrastructure
71. The HKSTPC is exploring the feasibility of Phase 2 of the Science Park Expansion Programme. I will earmark $3 billion for the programme.
72. The Data Technology Hub and the Advanced Manufacturing Centre being developed by the HKSTPC in the Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate will be completed as scheduled in the first half of this year and in 2022 respectively.
73. We are now going through the statutory town planning procedures for the Cyberport 5 development site and plan to submit a funding proposal to LegCo in the first half of 2021. Construction is expected to complete in 2024 at the earliest. The expansion will attract more technology companies and start-ups to Cyberport.
74. We support start-ups through various means, including strengthening the support of the HKSTPC and Cyberport for their tenants and incubatees, backing university start-ups through the Technology Start-up Support Scheme for Universities, making use of the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund for co-investing with venture capital funds in local technology start-ups.
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